Causes of Indoor Air Quality Problems in Schools: Summary of Scientific Research

PDF Version Also Available for Download.

Description

In the modern urban setting, most individuals spend about 80% of their time indoors and are therefore exposed to the indoor environment to a much greater extent than to the outdoors (Lebowitz 1992). Concomitant with this increased habitation in urban buildings, there have been numerous reports of adverse health effects related to indoor air quality (IAQ) (sick buildings). Most of these buildings were built in the last two decades and were constructed to be energy-efficient. The quality of air in the indoor environment can be altered by a number of factors: release of volatile compounds from furnishings, floor and wall ... continued below

Physical Description

49 pages

Creation Information

Bayer, C.W. February 22, 2001.

Context

This report is part of the collection entitled: Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports and was provided by UNT Libraries Government Documents Department to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this report can be viewed below.

Who

People and organizations associated with either the creation of this report or its content.

Author

Sponsor

Publisher

Provided By

UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Serving as both a federal and a state depository library, the UNT Libraries Government Documents Department maintains millions of items in a variety of formats. The department is a member of the FDLP Content Partnerships Program and an Affiliated Archive of the National Archives.

Contact Us

What

Descriptive information to help identify this report. Follow the links below to find similar items on the Digital Library.

Description

In the modern urban setting, most individuals spend about 80% of their time indoors and are therefore exposed to the indoor environment to a much greater extent than to the outdoors (Lebowitz 1992). Concomitant with this increased habitation in urban buildings, there have been numerous reports of adverse health effects related to indoor air quality (IAQ) (sick buildings). Most of these buildings were built in the last two decades and were constructed to be energy-efficient. The quality of air in the indoor environment can be altered by a number of factors: release of volatile compounds from furnishings, floor and wall coverings, and other finishing materials or machinery; inadequate ventilation; poor temperature and humidity control; re-entrainment of outdoor volatile organic compounds (VOCs); and the contamination of the indoor environment by microbes (particularly fungi). Armstrong Laboratory (1992) found that the three most frequent causes of IAQ are (1) inadequate design and/or maintenance of the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, (2) a shortage of fresh air, and (3) lack of humidity control. A similar study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH 1989) recognized inadequate ventilation as the most frequent source of IAQ problems in the work environment (52% of the time). Poor IAQ due to microbial contamination can be the result of the complex interactions of physical, chemical, and biological factors. Harmful fungal populations, once established in the HVAC system or occupied space of a modern building, may episodically produce or intensify what is known as sick building syndrome (SBS) (Cummings and Withers 1998). Indeed, SBS caused by fungi may be more enduring and recalcitrant to treatment than SBS from multiple chemical exposures (Andrae 1988). An understanding of the microbial ecology of the indoor environment is crucial to ultimately resolving many IAQ problems. The incidence of SBS related to multiple chemical sensitivity versus bioaerosols (aerosolized microbes), or the contribution of the microorganisms to the chemical sensitivities, is not yet understood. If the inhabitants of a building exhibit similar symptoms of a clearly defined disease with a nature and time of onset that can be related to building occupancy, the disease is generally referred to as ''building-related illness.'' Once the SBS has been allowed to elevate to this level, buildings are typically evacuated and the costs associated with disruption of the building occupants, identification of the source of the problem, and eventual remediation can be significant. Understanding the primary causes of IAQ problems and how controllable factors--proper HVAC system design, allocation of adequate outdoor air, proper filtration, effective humidity control, and routine maintenance--can avert the problems may help all building owners, operators, and occupants to be more productive (Arens and Baughman 1996). This paper provides a comprehensive summary of IAQ research that has been conducted in various types of facilities. However, it focuses primarily on school facilities because, for numerous reasons that will become evident, they are far more susceptible to developing IAQ problems than most other types of facilities; and the occupants, children, are more significantly affected than adults (EPA 1998).

Physical Description

49 pages

Source

  • Other Information: PBD: 22 Feb 2001

Language

Item Type

Identifier

Unique identifying numbers for this report in the Digital Library or other systems.

  • Report No.: ORNL/M-6633
  • Grant Number: AC05-96OR22464
  • DOI: 10.2172/777701 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 777701
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc723210

Collections

This report is part of the following collection of related materials.

Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

What responsibilities do I have when using this report?

When

Dates and time periods associated with this report.

Creation Date

  • February 22, 2001

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 29, 2015, 5:31 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • March 29, 2016, 4:08 p.m.

Usage Statistics

When was this report last used?

Yesterday: 0
Past 30 days: 0
Total Uses: 3

Interact With This Report

Here are some suggestions for what to do next.

Start Reading

PDF Version Also Available for Download.

Citations, Rights, Re-Use

Bayer, C.W. Causes of Indoor Air Quality Problems in Schools: Summary of Scientific Research, report, February 22, 2001; Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc723210/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.